While Arizona’s underclassmen evaluate options, Mayes prepares to move on
TUCSON, Ariz. — While the basketball fates of Nick Johnson, Aaron Gordon, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Kaleb Tarczewski are still up in the air, senior guard Jordin Mayes is ready to move on after playing his last game in an Arizona uniform.
Mayes contributed four points in Saturday’s 64-63 overtime loss to Wisconsin, including the final basket of the season for the Wildcats on a last-minute tip-in, pulling them within one point.
Arizona couldn’t score again.
"They wanted me to be in there to get a stop, play defense," he said. "I was down low and saw the ball come up and I tipped it in. I thought it was a big play.
"We fought out there. It just didn’t go our way."
In Mayes’ four years at Arizona, he seemed to save his most memorable impressions for March. This season was no exception , as he played sparingly until getting a more pronounced role in the postseason, logging 26 minutes in four games.
"Looking back you could say I had a good career as far getting to two Elite Eights and two Sweet 16s and two Pac-12 Conference titles," he said. "And then we went to the Pac-12 tournament championship twice. You could say I’ve had a good career."
Now, it’s wait and see for UA’s lone senior who will get his degree in a couple of months in general studies, with an emphasis in sports and society.
He’s hoping for an opportunity to continue to playing professionally somewhere, but if not, he hopes to stay involved in the game in another capacity.
Hollis-Jefferson had no points and one steal at halftime against Wisconsin, going 0 for 2. He looked out of sorts a bit.
But then came the second half where he finished with 10 points and four rebounds. He had two acrobatic shots that wowed the crowd.
"It was more about being in attack mode more," he said. "You want to win so much that the will kicks in."
He added: "That’s just who I am, man. I just see opportunities. I just have to seize it."
Arizona was 21-0 when one of its most valuable players, Brandon Ashley, suffered a season-ending injury in early February. The Wildcats went 12-5 the rest of the way, finishing two wins shy of the school’s all-time win total set in 1988.
Arizona coach Sean Miller improvised by going with a smaller lineup and emphasizing more of a transistion game.
"Coach Miller is proud of us even though the season ended like that," Hollis-Jefferson said. "I felt we did a pretty good job once (Ashley) went down. We got back on our ground and worked hard to become a better team. It was pretty tough for us. He’s a great help to us. We needed him. When he was down we were kind of lost for a second. It was a tough bounce-back for us. But we came back."